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Head to head: England v France

22 February 2013

  • England face France at Twickenham on Saturday
  • Find out all the facts and stats ahead of the match
England scrum down in training

Photo Credit: Getty Images

France are the only team without a win in this year’s RBS 6 Nations and on Saturday in England they will face the only unbeaten side. The teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of success so far but when it comes to assessing any French side, form is an unreliable yard stick. A big, physical pack awaits Stuart Lancaster’s men on Saturday, who will be trying to maintain England’s eight year unbeaten record against France at Twickenham. Here are all the vital stats and facts ahead of the clash.

When? Saturday, February 23
Where? Twickenham, Middlesex
Kick-off? 5.00pm

How to keep up with the action

  • Live on BBC One from 4.30pm
  • Live commentary on BBC 5 live Sports Extra and online
  • Live text commentary and real time stats at
  • Live text commentary on the free RFU iPhone app (search the app store for Official RFU)
  • Live score updates from @Official_RFU on Twitter
  • Match report, post-match interviews and highlights on

The teams


15 Alex Goode (Saracens); 14 Chris Ashton (Saracens); 13 Brad Barritt (Saracens); 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers); 11 Mike Brown (Harlequins); 10 Owen Farrell (Saracens); 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); 1 Joe Marler (Harlequins); 2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints); 3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers); 4 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps); 5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers); 6 Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints); 7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins); 8 Tom Wood (Northampton)

Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers); 17 David Wilson (Bath); 18 Mako Vunipola (Saracens); 19 James Haskell (London Wasps); 20 Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers); 21 Danny Care (Harlequins); 22 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers); 23 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)


15 Yoann Huget (Toulouse); 14 Vincent Clerc (Toulouse); 13 Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon); 12 Wesley Fofana (Clermont); 11 Benjamin Fall (Racing-Metro); 10 François Trinh-Duc (Montpellier); 9 Morgan Parra (Clermont); 1 Thomas Domingo (Clermont); 2 Benjamin Kayser (Clermont); 3 Nicolas Mas (Perpignan); 4 Christophe Samson (Castres); 5 Yoann Maestri (Toulouse); 6 Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse); 7 Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse) captain; 8 Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)

Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing-Metro); 17 Vincent Debaty (Clermont); 18 Luc Ducalcon (Racing-Metro); 19 Jocelino Suta (Toulon); 20 Antonie Claassen (Castres); 21 Maxime Machenaud (Racing-Metro); 22 Frédéric Michalak (Toulon); 23 Florian Fritz (Toulouse)

What the coaches say:

England coach Stuart Lancaster:

"The players are really looking forward to getting back to Twickenham; the atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic and hopefully the crowd can get behind us in what is sure to be a great challenge against a motivated and physical French team.

“They (France) went to Italy and played against a very strong side and as we found last year in that Stadio Olimpico it’s a difficult place to go,” he said.  “Not getting off to a start put the team under pressure and then they played the Grand Slam champions [Wales] at home and it was 6-6 until the last five minutes so they will be very disappointed to lose that. It was a game they definitely could have won.

England in a huddle at the captain's run on Friday

Photo Credit: Getty Images

France coach Phillipe Saint-Andre:

"The England game can be our Grand Slam. The English are euphoric at the moment. Everyone is favouring them for the Grand Slam and us for the wooden spoon.

"We have to go there full of enthusiasm, confidence and daring. We have players who are going to be fresh physically therefore we are going to have good training sessions. We are going there totally unrestrained. What a wonderful challenge to be going to Twickenham. I am really eager to be proud of a team that is going to go there and give 120 per cent.” 

Head to head

  • Played 96, England won 52, France won 37, drawn 7
  • Highest score – England 48-19 in 2001, France  37-12 in 1972
  • Biggest win – England 37-0 in 1911, France 37-12 in 1972 and 31-6 in 2006

Previous four meetings

  • 2010 – France 12-10 England
  • 2011 – England 17-9 France
  • 2011 – France 19-12 England
  • 2012 – France 22-24 England

England key facts

  • IRB world ranking: 4th
  • Most capped player in history: Jason Leonard (114 caps, 1990-2004)
  • Most capped player in the squad: Toby Flood (54 caps, 2005-2013)
  • Most consecutive test wins: 14 (2002 to 2003)

France key facts

  • IRB world ranking: 5th
  • Most capped player in history: Fabien Pelous (118 caps, 1995-2007)
  • Most capped player in squad: Dimitri Szarzewski  (67 caps, 2004-2013)
  • Most consecutive test wins: 10 (1931-1937)
Ben Foden scored against France in 2011

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Keys To The Game

The IBM TryTracker live stats engine includes the ‘Keys to the Game’, which predict three crucial areas of performance specific to each team ahead of match day. If a side hits their target in these aspects of their game they will significantly increase their chances of victory.

England keys

  • Beat more than 11 defenders
  • Have more than 7 attempts at goal
  • Achieve a successful tackle rate of more than 92%

England fly half Owen Farrell has shown in the last year that he can kick the best in the world to death given the penalties and the platform by his forwards. If England can manufacture him seven attempts at goal his international kick success rate of 78% will yield around 16 points and provide England with a substantial platform to win the game. Couple that point scoring with a tackle success rate of 92% and Lancaster’s men will be very hard to beat.

France keys

  • Win more than 15 turnovers
  • Kick from hand more than 22 times
  • Run on average more than 4.7m per carry

To nullify the threat from Farrell’s boot France must put as much distance as possible between him and their goal posts making effective kicking from hand an important weapon for them. Gaining territory will mean giving up possession though so they must combine plenty of punting with clinical counter rucking and plenty of turnovers.